The Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board gave a thumbs up to renovations planned at the Raleigh Hotel in South Beach, purchased by Tommy Hilfiger for $56.5 million last year.
Extensive renovations costing millions are aimed at restoring the 75 year-old building to its grandeur. The board approved modifications proposed by David Pisor, CEO of New York-based Elimira Miami, on Tuesday. Elimira will run the hotel.
Pisor said he will reduce the hotel’s rooms from about 105 to 87 in order to create a new club-like space modeled on the nearby Soho Beach House. He described the new space as a place where locals can gather for activities related to art or fashion or fitness. The idea, he said, is to take a small asset like the medium-sized hotel and generate more functions as a local club. Pisor did not disclose how long the renovation will take or when the hotel will open, but did say that extensive renovations are planned.
The Raleigh’s iconic pool, which one board member described enthusiastically as “the most famous in the world,” will not change, Pisor said. The pool was a backdrop in several ‘50s movies featuring Esther Williams.
Miami-based design firm Touzet Studio will oversee the renovations. It’s the latest property for the firm whose projects have included the Gap store on Lincoln Road and a new Nike store half a block away.
Carlos Touzet calls the Raleigh perhaps the best-preserved example of Streamline Moderne architecture in Miami Beach, with nearly all of the hotel’s interior largely preserved. A focus of the renovation will be the Raleigh’s cocktail bar and the creation of a new large dining area in the back that will become an indoor/outdoor space.
Daniel Ciraldo, of the Miami Design Preservation League, which is dedicated to preserving the city’s Art Deco heritage, expressed concerns that a large canopy over the area might block views of the hotel. Extensive landscaping is also planned for the Raleigh. Some board members asked that a wall, which borders on 18th Street and gives pool patrons privacy, be covered in ivy, and that a front canopy designed to protect hotel guests during the rainy season be designed as minimally as possible.
Hilfiger purchased the hotel at 1775 Collins Avenue in April 2014.